- 13 Nov 08
A fine new disc from Scots exile Robin James Hurt leads this fortnight's parade.
Okay, so I finally gave up the ghost on my old car and bought another one. And guess what: this one has a CD player - which can only be a good thing in this country, given the amount of time you waste twiddling your thumbs in traffic wondering why it takes so long to do whatever it is they’re doing to that stretch of road on the way into Belfast. I’m enjoying listening to a few old favourites, and checking out some new stuff too.
I got a taster CD from Robin James Hurt, who has a new album in the offing called The Tallyman’s Lament. Although Robin has been over here for quite some time, he’s still very proud of his Scottish roots, and this comes across very strongly both in the choice of songs and in the way they are put across. ‘Farewell to Tarwathie’ and ‘Come Away Home’ are both explicitly Scottish songs and the arrangements, especially the fiddle playing, wear their heritage very clearly. ‘Schooldays Over’ is an almost ubiquitous part of the folk repertoire, and what you do with it as a performer – if you move away from the Dubliners version at all – becomes almost a statement of intent. What you get here is a muscular, angular, almost grating rendition that sits very well with the song’s theme of getting a sharp introduction to the un-cossetted world of the workplace, the thankless nature of adulthood. It’s a song whose time is very likely coming around again. As the recession bites and the cost of putting kids through college becomes beyond what many families can afford, many more kids will find that cushion of college disappearing as they have to muck in, doing whatever work there is to help make ends meet. Although it’s not without its occasional flaw – the combination of Seamus O’Brien with Blackleg Miner just doesn’t work for me – there’s a pile of positive energy in this set of tracks that bodes well for the album itself.
Flook haven’t been seen over here anywhere near as much as we, and I would imagine they, would like. That could have a lot to do with the kind of touring schedule that takes them from the UK to Japan, back to the UK and then on to France over the next few weeks. The good news is that after that, we get a smattering of dates over here. Their Irish adventure starts off with a performance in Belfast’s Errigle Inn on Friday November 21, with a gig the following evening in Portstewart. A cross-country dash is in order then to get them across to the Glens Centre in Manorhamilton for their gig there on Sunday November 23. There isn’t any let up as they head over to Castlebar to play a show in the Linenhall Centre on the evening of Monday November 24. It’ll be straight to bed after that one though, with a long drive on the cards for the next morning, as Tuesday November 25 sees them take to the stage at Cork’s Pavilion. There’s an appearance scheduled on Pat Kenny’s radio show on the morning of Thursday November 27, for those of you who can’t make it to a show. They must be planning on giving it socks on the radio, as there’s no show pencilled in for that evening. The tour closes off with a show in the Seamus Ennis Centre in Naul on Friday November 28.
The residents of Naul won’t have two shillings to rub together after a packed November at the Seamus Ennis Centre, kicking off with a gig from Stewart Agnew, who has been unusually quiet over the last while, on Thursday November 6. Such periods of apparent silence from the Dundalk man can usually be taken to mean he has hidden himself away with the guitar and piano for a songwriting binge, so this gig could see some new material turned loose.
The border is well represented, with Newry brothers Brendan and Declan Murphy from The Four of Us taking a break from the studio – where they are working on the follow up to Fingerprints – to perform at the centre on Friday November 14. They have been working on new songs both for the band and also for a Brendan Murphy solo project which should see the light of day some time next year. It will be interesting to see if any of these get a public preview.
Former Music Network award winners Slide complete a very healthy November line-up at the Seamus Ennis Centre with a show on Friday November 21. Having passed the Young Musicwide mantle to Fidil, they’re now entirely self-powered again but none the worse for that.
Early next year will not only see a new album from Jinx Lennon, but there should also be a live DVD to go along with it. Anyone who has seen the potent combination of Jinx and Miss Paula Flynn in full flight live will know that their stage performances often far exceed what has been committed to disc. Two of the country’s most charismatic performers, the show was captured at their recent Sugar Club gig and should be a must-have live DVD by the same crew who worked on the excellent Noisemaker documentary.
Miss Paula Flynn also releases her first solo record since ‘Let’s Dance’ at the end of November when ‘Happy Christmas Valentine’ hits the airwaves and the shops. Never one to be pigeonholed, Flynn’s song stays true to her country roots but weaves in a considerable slice of Christmas spirit along the way, thanks to some production assistance from Brian Crosby following his departure from Bell X1.